The Rohingya: Humanitarian Crisis or Security Threat?

The Rohingya: Humanitarian Crisis or Security Threat?

This article is part of “Southeast Asia: Refugees in Crisis,” an ongoing series  by The Diplomat for summer and fall 2015 featuring exclusive articles from scholars and practitioners tackling Southeast Asia’s ongoing refugee crisis.All articles in the series can be found here.

To respond to the alarming rise of stranded persons in the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal, the Royal Thai Government organized the “Special Meeting on Irregular Migration in the Indian Ocean” on May 29, 2015 in Bangkok. The meeting was convened to address the continuing exodus of migrants and refugees from Myanmar. These refugees are mainly Rohingya, a Muslim minority group. They have been treated as “second-class” and”non citizens,” suffering from social discrimination, massive violent repression, human rights violations, and political exclusion. In addition to repressive policies by the central government, the Rohingya have also faced extremely anti-Muslim sentiments fanned partly by government-supported Buddhist fundamentalism in Myanmar.

The Southeast Asian and South Asian region has witnessed tremendous human movement – including hundreds of thousands refugees from Myanmar trying to enter neighboring countries illegally – especially Bangladesh. However, despite the increasingly dire humanitarian crisis, most of the potential host states are reluctant to accept more Rohingya refugees. One of the major reasons for this is an increasing trend in the region of viewing the Rohingya issue not solely as a humanitarian issue, but also a security and political one. As awareness has grown in both dimensions – humanitarian and security – there is a growing recognition among the international community of the need to do more than just ignoring the worsening situation of the Rohingya.

Historically, the Rohingya are predominantly Muslim and closely related to the Bengali people. Originally, many of them migrated from the Indian subcontinent towards the east into ‘Theravada Buddhist Myanmar,’ especially during the British colonial time. Relations between Muslims and Buddhists in Myanmar started deteriorating during the country’s liberation struggle. Relatively soon after gaining independence, the new rulers in Myanmar identified the Rohingya as economic refugees, a move that would be significant to the socio-economic composition and political power structure of the country. A policy of repression soon followed, which treated the Rohingya as illegal migrants subject to eviction.

The severity of the Rohingya migration issue can be understood as a clear result of three intermingling factors.  First is the emergence of authoritarian (military) regimes in Myanmar. Second is the consequence of a cultural confrontation between different ethnic-religious communities in Myanmar. This conflict gained significance after the military rulers attempted to assimilate religious-ethnic minorities into the mainstream Burmese culture. A strategy of an enforced cultural unification, namely Burmanization, was used as a way of “National Reconsolidation.” Third is the initial ignorance and inaction from policymakers worldwide despite the fact that the Rohingya issue was increasingly having international implications.

Today, it would seem that awareness of the Rohingya and their illegal migration is finally rising within the international community. In part, however, this new attention to the Rohingya issue stems from the tendency to identify Rohingya refugees as a “non-traditional security threat.”

In particular, there is a growing conviction among analysts that the massive influx of the Rohingyas during the last decades is creating a multidimensional security crisis. As stateless refugees, they have become the face of security threats as well as various forms of psycho-social and human security challenges in Myanmar and in their new host countries across the region like Bangladesh.

Most Rohingya who have migrated to other countries live in extraordinarily deplorable conditions. Living in forms of involuntarily and illegal self-settlement, they have to deal regularly with security forces, the unease and resistance of local communities, and restricted access to food, drinking water, sufficient shelter, and clothing. Partly as a result of these circumstances, they are often more easily targeted by criminal networks, illegal businesses, and Islamic fundamentalist groups like the Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), or Harkat-ulJihad-al Islami (Huji).

This in turn leads illegal Rohingya migrants – particularly those living in illegal camps or unregistered as refugees – to be perceived as the cause of conflict. The movement of Rohingya refugees begins to be viewed through the prism of the rising challenge of controlling Islamic terrorism and political Islam in the region.

At the heart of this view is the following worry: the Rohingya problem is contributing to and is partly responsible for the rise of international jihadist movements. In more operational terms, there is the claim that the Rohingya are helping to support Islamic fundamentalism by acting as a (passive) recruiting base for Islamic militant extremists and through direct support for religious fundamentalism.

It is claimed that some radicalized sections of the refugees actively maintain links with banned Islamist groupings like JMB or Huji. Some radicalized Rohingya are accused of not only sympathizing with their fundamentalist worldview but also actively providing resources for these Islamist outfits, for example, providing training on arms and explosives. Additionally, there is the accusation that the Rohingya are using their international network to allocate funds from like-minded international organizations for militant groups operating in their host countries, especially in Bangladesh.

Rohingya have also been held responsible for the undermining of the general law and order situation in their host societies. Besides terrorism, extremist violence, and religious extremism, the Rohingya crisis is also seen as being associated with all kinds of criminal activities including narcotics, human trafficking, illegal trade in SALW (small arms and light weapons) and ammunition, stealing, armed robbery, and maritime piracy. Other major concerns are smuggling and illegal cross-border infiltrations.

Additionally, Rohingya have increasingly linked with growing rates of crimes related to extortion, sexual harassment (including prostitution and sexual slavery), killings for organs, domestic servitude, and forced labor by criminal networks in their host countries.

However, there is the tendency among authorities of host countries to ignore the fact that the Rohingya are mostly the victims and not the perpetrators in these scenarios. Rather, it seems that the general tendency up to this point has been to focus on the refugee crisis as the causal factor for the increase in security concerns.

Rohingya have also been identified by some host governments and local communities as a negative disturbance to local economies, especially when they are settling in underdeveloped regions. Some fear that the Rohingya constitute an additional demographic pressure on the already densely populated area with scarce resources. Others claim that the (mostly illegal) penetration of the refugees in regional job markets leads to further socio-economic inequalities and reduces employment opportunities for the local workforce.

Still others suggest that security measures are needed because the refugee crisis is causing instability, leading to a real reduction in trade and commerce, especially in the Bangladesh-Myanmar relations. In this context, Rohingya are also blamed by state authorities for delays in enhancing regional connectivity (infrastructure) and hampering the working relationship between Dhaka and Naypyidaw.

With bilateral talks between Malaysia and Indonesia and the earlier mentioned Bangkok conference on “irregular migrations”

Source by: http://thediplomat.com/2015/10/the-rohingya-humanitarian-crisis-or-security-threat/

on May 29, as well as other steps, the international approach to the Rohingya is finally moving from ignorance to action. But it would be naïve to think this trajectory is only due to the humanitarian crisis of the refugees. Rather, the negative impacts of illegal migration – particularly on the security side – have finally convinced the international community to act, even though this may be based on unfounded fears.

Given this, what is most important is to preserve the political will and to strengthen the decision-making procedures in order to work towards a coherent and comprehensive solution to the Rohingya problem. Attending to security concerns cannot be done at the expense of humanitarian needs.

By Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organization Malaysia ( MERHROM) Posted in Uncategorized

Myanmar Says Ex-Army Officer Ordered Prominent Lawyer’s Murder

CHIANG MAI, Thailand — A former military officer in Myanmar is suspected of ordering the killing of a prominent human rights lawyer who was a top adviser to the country’s leader, the office of Myanmar’s civilian president announced on Wednesday.

The lawyer, U Ko Ni, one of the most prominent Muslims in the majority Buddhist country, was fatally shot at Yangon International Airport on Jan. 29 in what appears to have been a rare political assassination in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.

When he was killed, Mr. Ko Ni, who was 65, was returning to Yangon, Myanmar, from a trip to Indonesia. He had been cradling his young grandson in his arms when he was shot in the head.

In a statement released Wednesday evening, the president’s office said that Aung Win Khine, 45, a retired lieutenant colonel, was suspected of paying 100 million kyat, or about $71,500, to the person who killed Mr. Ko Ni.

The president’s office said Colonel Aung Win Khine, who retired from the army in 2014, was at large and published his photograph with a request for people to share information on his whereabouts.

Photo

Mr. Ko Ni was rewriting Myanmar’s Constitution, which would have removed much of the military’s power, when he was killed. CreditReuters

Mr. Ko Ni had been well known within Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s political party, the National League for Democracy, for his efforts to amend the Constitution and write a new one. Before being killed, he had been drafting a Constitution that would have stripped the military of its powers and would have established peace agreements with armed ethnic groups.

“If the military still focuses on protecting its interests, it will be impossible to change any part of the Constitution within Parliament,” he said last year during an interview with a Burmese newspaper. “That’s why writing a new one is the best way to pursue a democratic Constitution.”

At least two suspects related to the killing are already in custody: U Kyi Lin, accused of shooting Mr. Ko Ni, and U Aung Win Zaw, 46, the elder brother of Colonel Aung Win Khine.

Mr. Aung Win Zaw is also a former lieutenant with the Myanmar army, but the president’s office did not mention that at the time of his arrest, leading to accusations that it was withholding information.

“All people know here suspect Aung Win Zaw is an ex-army officer,” said U Sai Tun Aung Lwin, a journalist based in Yangon. “The government and the government agencies must be transparent on the political assassination. If not, people won’t know which information is true.”

The political party led by Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi took power in March 2016, but it shares executive and legislative power with the military. Under the current Constitution, the military controls the ministries of defense, home affairs and border affairs as well as at least 25 percent of parliamentary seats. Her party’s relationship with the military has been rocky since last fall.

“I strongly believe that those who are pro-2008 Constitution killed him,” U Aung Moe Zaw, chairman of a political party, the Democratic Party for New Society, said on Wednesday, referring to the current Constitution. “At the same time, their intention is to threaten all of us and to create instability.”

Source by; https://www.nytimes.com

By Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organization Malaysia ( MERHROM) Posted in Uncategorized

Raped While Heavily Pregnant, Rohingya Woman Shares Darkest Moments

Raped While Heavily Pregnant, Rohingya Woman Shares Darkest Moments

TEKNAF (Bangladesh), Feb 16 (Bernama) — Raped while in advanced stage of pregnancy.

That was the darkest moment suffered by a teenage Rohingya now sheltering at a refugee camp in Leda here, a nightmare that recurs until today.

Wanting to be known only as Senuara, 19, the woman said she underwent the horrifying ordeal in early November 2015 when she tried to flee Arakan Province to a safer place.

Her ordeal continued as she was made a sex slave at the height of the oppression by the authorities in Arakan Province, Myanmar.

Initially, Senuara declined to relate her ordeal but later mustered enough courage to relate her plight.

Senuara said she wanted to put the horrifying experience behind and begin a new life at the camp.

“I am now living with two sons, aged two years and two months, and we are quite comfortable in the camp and are grateful that there are still people who care about our fate,” she added.

More than 100,000 ethnic Rohingyas are currently sheltered at refugee camps in Leda, which are monitored by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Rohingyas at the refugee camps are guarded by members of the Bangladesh Armed Forces and provided with adequate shelter.

Rohingyas, an ethnic group in north Myanmar have sought refuge in other countries when political and social turmoil erupted at their homeland in Arakan.

On Tuesday, the ‘Nautical Aliya’ ship which was carrying 2,000 tonnes of aid for Rohingya refugees through the ‘Food Flotilla For Myanmar’ mission arrived in Chittagong port.

The items will be distributed to three refugee camps in Kutupalong, Cox’s Bazar and Teknaf, with the assistance of the Bangladesh Red Crescent and the International Organisation for Migration.

The ship left Port Klang on Feb 3 and unloaded a portion of the aid at Yangon Port in Myanmar, six days later.

Source by: BERNAMA

By Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organization Malaysia ( MERHROM) Posted in Uncategorized

[VIDEO] “He Raped Me While I Was Eight Months Pregnant,” 19-Year-Old Rohingya Woman Recounts Being Tormented By Myanmar Soldier

[VIDEO] “He Raped Me While I Was Eight Months Pregnant,” 19-Year-Old Rohingya Woman Recounts Being Tormented By Myanmar Soldier

Published on Thursday, 16 February 2017

 

In a remote village in Arakan, 19-year-old Senu Ara was eight months pregnant when she was raped by a Myanmar militant.

She was counting the days; waiting for the birth of her second child, when the vile military man broke into her home and caused a ruckus.

But unfortunately, things escalated for the worst when he shot her husband dead and proceeded to rape her.

“The man covered his face and raped me while I was eight months pregnant,” Senu recounted her ordeal to Utusan Malaysia with the help of a translator.

“I no longer have anyone because my husband was killed. I thought I could escape the soldiers by fleeing the village, but regardless where we are, they will continue to oppress us.”

Senu now resides at the Rohingya Refugee Camp in Leda, Bangladesh, with her two-year-old son.

Who would’ve thought that such vile act of cruelty would be the fate of a woman who was heavily pregnant – but that is the sad and heartbreaking reality that every Rohingya women face.

Last November, The Express Tribune reported that 20-year-old Habiba and her 18-year-old sister were tied to their beds by the Myanmar soldiers and repeatedly raped them one by one.

“They tied both of us to the bed and raped us one by one,” Habiba said.

“They torched most of the houses, killed numerous people including our father and raped many young girls,” as she recounted how the soldiers ambushed their home and burnt it to the ground.

“One of the soldiers told us before leaving that they will kill us if they see us around the next time they come here. Then they torched our house.”

Fortunately, the two girls and their older brother Hashim Ullah have found shelter with a Rohingya refugee family just a few kilometres away from the Bangladesh-Myanmar border.

“We’re almost starving here. But at least no one is coming here to kill or torture,” said Hashim Ullah.

Source by: Malaysian Digest

By Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organization Malaysia ( MERHROM) Posted in Uncategorized

Amid allegations of Rohingya mass killings, Myanmar says military operation in Rakhine has ended

Amid allegations of Rohingya mass killings, Myanmar says military operation in Rakhine has ended

A screen grab from a YouTube video showing a policeman kicking a Rohingya minority villager in Kotankauk village during a police area clearance operation on Nov 5, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

YANGON (Reuters) – Myanmar’s military has ended a clearance operation in the country’s troubled Rakhine state, government officials said, ending a four-month sweep that the United Nations said may amount to crimes against humanity and possibly ethnic cleansing.

The security operation had been under way since nine policemen were killed in attacks on security posts near the Bangladesh border on Oct 9. Almost 69,000 Rohingyas have since fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh, according to UN estimates.

The violence has renewed international criticism that Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi has done too little to help members of the Muslim minority.

The government led by Nobel laureate Suu Kyi has denied almost all allegations of human rights abuses in Rakhine, including mass killings and gang rapes of Rohingya Muslims, and said the operation was a lawful counterinsurgency campaign.

“The situation in northern Rakhine has now stabilised. The clearance operations undertaken by the military have ceased, the curfew has been eased and there remains only a police presence to maintain the peace,” newly-appointed national security adviser Thaung Tun was quoted as saying in a statement released by State Counsellor’s Office late on Wednesday.

“There can be no excuse for excessive force, for abuses of fundamental human rights and basic criminality. We have shown that we are ready to act where there is clear evidence of abuses,” he told a group of diplomats and UN representatives in a meeting, according to the statement.

Two senior officials from Myanmar’s President Office and the Ministry of Information confirmed that the army operation in northern Rakhine had ended but said the military force remained in the region to maintain “peace and security”.

Myanmar military did not immediately respond to requests for comments.

The military and police have separately set up a team to investigate alleged crimes after Suu Kyi promised to probe UN allegations of atrocities against the Muslim minority.

More than 1,000 Rohingya Muslims may have been killed in the crackdown, two senior UN officials dealing with refugees fleeing the violence told Reuters last week.

A Myanmar presidential spokesman has said the latest reports from military commanders were that fewer than 100 people had been killed in the counterinsurgency operation.

Rohingya Muslims have faced discrimination in Buddhist-majority Myanmar for generations. They are regarded as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, entitled only to limited rights and some 1.1 million of them live in apartheid-like conditions in northwestern Myanmar.

Source by: http://www.straitstimes.com

By Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organization Malaysia ( MERHROM) Posted in Uncategorized

Myanmar’s Suu Kyi vows to investigate crimes against Rohingya – U.N.’s Zeid

Myanmar’s Suu Kyi vows to investigate crimes against Rohingya – U.N.’s Zeid

By Stephanie Nebehay | GENEVA

The top United Nations human rights official said Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi promised on Friday to investigate U.N. allegations of atrocities against Rohingya Muslims.

Security forces and police have committed mass killings and gang rapes and burned villages in northern Rakhine state, a U.N. investigation published on Friday found.

“I did speak to Aung San Suu Kyi about an hour and a half ago. I called upon her to use every means available to exert pressure on the military and the security services to end this operation,” U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said in an interview with Reuters in Geneva.

“She informed me that an investigation will be launched. She said that they would require further information.”

In Yangon, presidential spokesman Zaw Htay said: “These are extremely serious allegations, and we are deeply concerned. We will be immediately investigating these allegations through the investigation commission led by Vice-President U Myint Swe.

“Where there is clear evidence of abuses and violations, we will take all necessary action.”

Myanmar, a mostly Buddhist country, has previously denied almost all allegations of human rights abuses against Muslims in northern Rakhine and says a lawful counterinsurgency campaign is under way.

Since it began on Oct. 9, about 69,000 Rohingya have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh. The U.N. report was based on accounts gathered in January from 220 of them.

Witnesses testified to “the killing of babies, toddlers, children, women and elderly; opening fire at people fleeing; burning of entire villages; massive detention; massive and systematic rape and sexual violence; deliberate destruction of food and sources of food”.

One woman described her baby’s throat being slit. Another was raped by soldiers and saw her five-year-old daughter killed.

The report said the actions by security forces probably amounted to crimes against humanity.

“HORRORS”

Zeid said the perpetrators of such “horrors” must be held to account. Possible avenues would be the establishment of an international commission of inquiry or the involvement of the International Criminal Court.

The report described “area clearance operations” – gunfire and grenades dropped on villages from helicopters – which probably killed hundreds.

Nearly half of those interviewed said a family member had been killed or disappeared while 101 women reported having been raped or subjected to sexual violence.

Testimonies pointed to “a persecution on ethnic grounds which is similar to what has been, in other contexts, described as ‘ethnic cleansing’,” U.N. mission leader Linnea Arvidsson told a news briefing.

The investigators took evidence including photographs of bullet and knife wounds, burns, and injuries resulting from beatings with rifle butts or bamboo sticks.

The plight of the stateless Rohingya, of whom some 1.1 million live in apartheid-like conditions in Rakhine, has long been a source of friction between Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Many Rohingya had hoped that Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, would work to restore their rights once her civilian administration took power in March last year.

But within weeks of the latest crisis erupting, diplomats and aid workers were privatedly expressing dismay at her lack of deeper involvement.

“I am not going to go now into the extent to which she should have done more or less,” Zeid said. “There has to be some responsibility.”

Officials have so far denied observers and independent journalists access to the conflict area, while accusing Rohingya of fabricating stories and collaborating with insurgents who they say are terrorists with links to Islamists overseas.

(Additional reporting by Wa Lone in Yangon; Editing by Tom Miles and Andrew Roche)

Source by: http://uk.reuters.com

By Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organization Malaysia ( MERHROM) Posted in Uncategorized

Myanmar’s probe of lawyer’s killing beset by leaks, confusion

Myanmar’s probe of lawyer’s killing beset by leaks, confusion

By Shwe Yee Saw Myint and Simon Lewis | YANGON

Myanmar’s national police chief has taken personal charge of an investigation into the killing of a prominent lawyer and adviser to Aung San Suu Kyi’s ruling party, police sources said, after leaks and conflicting comments by officers about its progress.

The killing of Muslim advocate Ko Ni, 63 – shot in the head on Sunday in front of onlookers while he held his grandson outside Yangon’s international airport – has rocked the commercial capital, where acts of political violence are rare.

It comes amid heightened religious and communal tensions in the Buddhist-majority country, with a report from the United Nations human rights office on Friday saying a military crackdown on Rohingya Muslims in the northwest in recent months “very likely” amounted to crimes against humanity.

Tens of thousands turned out for Ko Ni’s funeral, and the public is closely watching how authorities investigate a killing the civilian president’s office has called an attempt to destabilize the state.

Colleagues have told Reuters Ko Ni was working on amendments to Myanmar’s military drafted constitution to help the National League for Democracy-led government rule effectively in a system that keeps soldiers in control of key ministries.

Major General Zaw Win, chief of the Myanmar Police Force, arrived in Yangon from the capital, Naypyidaw, on Thursday to oversee the probe, which is being led by the police’s criminal investigation department, two police officials told Reuters.

The official, who like other police spoke about the investigation on condition of anonymity, said the military’s domestic intelligence agency was also involved in the probe.

A military intelligence agent told Reuters he was instructed to monitor Ko Ni in the months before the lawyer’s death.

The intelligence agency was primarily concerned with finding out how the suspect obtained a firearm, ownership of which is tightly controlled in Myanmar, the official said.

CITIZEN INVESTIGATORS

The suspected shooter – named by police as Kyi Linn, 53 – was arrested after a group of taxi drivers chased the him down. One of the drivers was himself shot and killed.

Despite a ban on police talking publicly about the case, photographs showing parts of a report on Kyi Linn’s interrogation have spread widely online. Officials believe the images were leaked after police used the messaging app Viber to share them with colleagues.

The leak sparked a race on social media – use of which has rocketed in Myanmar since recent telecommunications reforms – to identify a man who, according to the document, Kyi Linn said enticed him to shoot Ko Ni.

Facebook users posted photos of purported suspects, and analyzed CCTV footage from the airport to devise often far-fetched conspiracy theories. Many in Myanmar distrust the police, who are under the remit of the military.

Police themselves have made contradictory statements on whether suspects are under arrest or not.

The office of President Htin Kyaw said late on Friday that a 46-year-old named Aung Win Zaw had been detained in the early hours of Monday, just hours after Ko Ni’s shooting, in the eastern state of Kayin, which borders Thailand.

Aung Win Zaw is accused of conspiring with Kyi Linn to kill Ko Ni, the office said in a statement, adding that police were searching for more suspects.

Police said Kyi Linn – who is charged with murder – has been jailed twice in the past for trafficking Buddhist artefacts, but was released in a 2014 amnesty granted by then-President Thein Sein.

Another former cell mate told Reuters he thought Kyi Linn would do anything “for his business and money,” adding: “I don’t think he is related to any political and religious issues.”

In his home village of Sai Lyar, members of Kyi Linn’s family were shocked by the news, carried by police and reporters who have visited their farming community in rural Sagaing Division since Sunday.

“I am sure my brother would not kill someone on his own,” Kyi Linn’s younger sister, Win Kyi, told Reuters. “There must be someone behind him.”

(Additional reporting by Saw Nang in SAI LYAR VILLAGE; Editing by Alex Richardson)

Source by: http://www.reuters.com

By Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organization Malaysia ( MERHROM) Posted in Uncategorized

Pirates, cyclones and mud: Bangladesh’s island solution to Rohingya crisis

Pirates, cyclones and mud: Bangladesh’s island solution to Rohingya crisis

A Bangladeshi coast guard vessel approaches the Thengar Char island in the Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh, February 2, 2017. Picture taken February 2, 2017. REUTERS/Mohammad Ponir Hossain
By Antoni Slodkowski | THENGAR CHAR, BANGLADESH

 

The island is two hours by boat from the nearest settlement. There are no buildings, mobile phone reception or people. During the monsoon it often floods and, when the seas are calm, pirates roam nearby waters hunting for fishermen to kidnap for ransom.

Welcome to Thengar Char, a muddy stain in the murky waters of the Bay of Bengal, identified by Bangladesh as a short-term solution to the humanitarian crisis unfolding on its border with Myanmar, across which some 70,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled.

Those refugees, escaping an army crackdown on insurgents that began in October, have joined more than 200,000 Rohingya already living in official and makeshift camps, straining resources in one of Asia’s poorest regions. Bangladesh says the refugees bring crime and a risk of disease.

The influx has prompted Dhaka to revive a plan – much criticized by humanitarian workers when it was first proposed in 2015 – to move thousands of people to this uninhabited island about 250 km (150 miles) northwest of their border camps.

While most experts dismiss the scheme as impractical, a Bangladeshi minister told Reuters this week that it was determined to push ahead, adding authorities would provide shelters, other facilities and livestock.

Local administrators, however, say they have not been informed, and when Reuters visited the island the only signs of activity were a few buffalo lazily grazing on the yellow grass along its shores.

“We have only heard bad things about the Rohingya. If they work with the pirates and get involved in crime – we don’t want them here,” said Mizanur Rahman, 48, the administrator of Might Bangha village, the closest settlement to Thengar Char.

Rahman added, however, that if the Rohingya were “good people”, they should be helped on humanitarian grounds. Others from the village echoed that sentiment, saying they were fellow Muslims and deserved assistance.

The crisis is the biggest challenge facing the government of Aung San Suu Kyi, straining Myanmar’s relations with the countries of the region hosting large Rohingya populations such as Bangladesh and Malaysia, but also the United States.

About 1.1 million Rohingya live in apartheid-like conditions in northwestern Myanmar, where they are denied citizenship. Many in Buddhist-majority Myanmar regard them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, while the authorities in Dhaka say they are Myanmar nationals and must ultimately go back.

To view a graphic on Bangladesh’s Rohingya relocation plan, click tmsnrt.rs/2k7ZAZy

PIRATES AND MACHINE GUNS

It takes about two hours by boat from Rahman’s village on the coast of Sandwip – one of the largest islands in an archipelago in southern Bangladesh – to Thengar Char.

Reuters journalists were escorted there by a fishing boat and a coastguard vessel carrying seven officers equipped with Chinese-made machine guns to stave off potential pirate attacks.

Villagers complain criminals roam the nearby waters, seizing vessels, stealing the catch and releasing fishermen only after receiving a ransom.

Thengar Char is flat and featureless, covered by bushes, grass and windswept trees.

It emerged from the sea about 11 years ago, off Sandwip’s western coast, one of the myriad of shifting, unstable islands formed by sediment in the mouth of the mighty Meghna river.

While Thengar Char looked calm on a sunny winter afternoon, the main objection voiced by aid agencies to Bangladesh’s plan is the area’s unforgiving climate.

“These areas are cyclone and flood-prone,” said Quamrul Hassan, a meteorologist at the Bangladesh Weather Department, adding that the islands in the Bay of Bengal were “especially risky” to inhabit.

“Average rainfall during the monsoon season in the coastal areas is more than double that of the other parts of the country.”

Many people living on the islands are regularly evacuated during the cyclone season to shelters built on the coast, said local journalist Saleh Noman.

He thought the relocation plan wasn’t realistic.

“There is a similar island in the area and it took some 40 years for it to develop. Bet even now it’s all very basic,” said Noman.

There are currently around 30,000 Rohingya living in camps run by the United Nations near border with Myanmar, while tens of thousands more are crammed into slums that have grown up around them, without proper sanitation or healthcare.

The Rohingya from those settlements sometimes find employment, but most are sustained by local villagers and rations quietly distributed by international aid agencies.

“We can operate here, but we can’t really talk about it,” said one aid worker based in the border region.

Rohingya refugees Reuters spoke to did not want to stay where they were – but neither did they want to be moved to Thengar Char.

“We left everything in Myanmar,” said Abu Salam from Kya Guang Taung, a village in northern Myanmar that was destroyed in the crackdown. He crossed the border in December.

“That’s where our home is. If only we could get citizenship, we would like to go back.”

(Reporting by Antoni Slodkowski; Additional reporting by Ruma Paul in Dhaka; Editing by Alex Richardson)

Source by: http://www.reuters.com

By Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organization Malaysia ( MERHROM) Posted in Uncategorized

Bangladesh forms committees to identify Myanmar Rohingyas and prevent influx

Bangladesh forms committees to identify Myanmar Rohingyas and prevent influx

 A Rohingya refugee camp. Photo: Reuters
The Cabinet Division issued the order forming the committees in Chittagong division and Cox’s Bazar, Chittagong and Bandarban districts recently.
By Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organization Malaysia ( MERHROM) Posted in Uncategorized

Joint Statement: Rohingya Condemn Assassination of U Ko Ni and Call for Urgent investigation

Joint Statement: Rohingya Condemn Assassination of U Ko Ni and Call for Urgent investigation

U Ko Ni
 
 
Joint Statement
Date: 30th January 2017
Rohingya Condemn Assassination of U Ko Ni and Call for Urgent investigation
We, the undersigned Rohingya organisations worldwide strongly condemn the assassination of U Ko Ni, 65, a high profile Muslim leader and legal advisor of NLD on Sunday, January 29, 2017 upon arrival at Yangon international airport from his official tour to examine the Indonesian model of interfaith.
U Ko Ni, a 1988 activist, was well known in Myanmar as a sincere, honorable, dedicated and patriotic man. He was the founder of Myanmar’s Muslim lawyers Association and had contributed the nation with his expertise in law. He was a strong advocate for peace, interfaith dialogue and harmony in the country. It is an irreparable loss for the nation.
We express our deep condolences to the members of the bereaved families U Ko Ni and Ko Nay Win, the taxi driver who bravely chased the murderer.
The assassination of U Ko Ni, is a reflection of how intimidating the situation is for those who are working for peace and dialogue, especially when they are from minorities or non-Buddhist religious groups.
We call for an urgent independent investigation to identify the motives and people associated with this heinous murder.
We also call on Rohingya people and all Muslims of the country to pray for U Ko Ni.
U Ko Ni will be remembered all times for his heroic struggle for the rights of Muslim communities and other minorities in the country, and also for his relentless fight for constitutional changes for a truly democratic Myanmar.
Signatories:
  1. Arakan Rohingya National Organisation
  2. Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK
  3. British Rohingya Community in UK
  4. Burmese Rohingya Community in Denmark
  5. Burmese Rohingya Association Japan
  6. Rohingya Advocacy Network in Japan
  7. Burmese Rohingya Community Australia
  8. Burmese Rohingya Association in Queensland-Australia (BRAQA)
  9. Canadian Burmese Rohingya Organisation
  10. Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organisation in Malaysia (MERHROM)
  11. Rohingya American Society
  12. Rohingya Arakanese Refugee Committee
  13. Rohingya Community in Germany
  14. Rohingya Community in Switzerland
  15. Rohingya Community in Finland
  16. Rohingya Community in Italy
  17. Rohingya Community in Sweden
  18. Rohingya Organisation Norway
  19. Rohingya Society Malaysia
  20. Rohingya Society Netherlands
For more information, please contact:
Tun Khin (Mobile): +44 7888714866
Nay San Lwin (Mobile): +49 69 26022349
Ko Ko Lin (Mobile): +880 1726068413

 

See more at: http://www.rohingyablogger.com/2017/01/joint-statement-rohingya-condemn.html#sthash.aCfhzZqL.dpuf

By Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organization Malaysia ( MERHROM) Posted in Uncategorized

Rohingya Villagers Disagree to Govt’s Resettlement Plans

Rohingya Villagers Disagree to Govt’s Resettlement Plans

By Anwar M.S.January 26, 2017 

Rohingya Villagers Disagree to Govt’s Resettlement Plans

 

Maungdaw — The displaced Rohingya villagers at the village of Kyikanpyin in  Maungdaw Township have shown their disagreement over the Myanmar government’s plan to resettle them at a different place, it has been reported.

Earlier, the displaced villagers welcomed the promise by the Myanmar authorities of restoring them to their original places but later, in practice, the authorities are reported to  have backtracked from their promise and been planning to resettling them to elsewhere.

Two hamlets of the Kyikanpyin (Hawar Bil) village, Wapeik (Wabek) and Middle hamlet, have been severely affected by the violence of the Military and the BGP (Border Guard Police) in the name of ‘Clearance Operation.’ The Wapeik hamlet was burnt down by the military and the BGP in October 2016 in sporadic attacks, the villagers of the entire middle hamlet were expelled from their homes in the late October (2016).

On January 24 morning, the officials from the Maungdaw Township administration held a meeting with the displaced villagers of the ‘Wapeik’ and the ‘Middle Hamlet’ at the ‘Annex High School’ in Kyikanpyin.

During the meeting, the township administration officials told the Wapeik villagers of ‘restoring them to their original homes in the Wapeik and re-building it as a model village.’ The proposal was warmly welcomed by the displaced Wapeik villagers attending the meeting.

A displaced person from the Middle hamlet attending the event also said “our entire hamlet was removed in the name of ‘Operation Clearance.’ Now, we need to take in the neighborhoods, which is very inconvenient. We can’t return to our homes after the expulsion either. Our homes were plundered and some homes were destroyed too.”

In reply, the township administration team promised the villagers that they would arrange for their returns to their original homes soon. The villagers attending the meeting were happy for the positive responses from the authorities.

However, now, the displaced villagers are extremely disappointed over the authorities’ divisive plan of resettlement realizing that the actual place they (the authorities) are trying to resettle them to is a different place contrary to their promise earlier.

The current place the authorities are planning to resettle the displaced Rohingyas is located by the highway between ‘Kyikanpyin’ and ‘Zin Paing Nya’ villages. It’s a low-lying ground prone to frequently flooding in the monsoon, difficult to find drinking water in the summer and unsuitable for agriculture.

A displaced villager also added that the villagers are currently facing troubles in taking shelters in the neighborhoods and the want the authorities to restore them to their original place.

Source by: http://www.rvisiontv.com

By Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organization Malaysia ( MERHROM) Posted in Uncategorized